Pilea Involucrata Overview
This cute little Pilea is from the Nettle family (Urticaceae), but its fuzzy hairs happily lack the sting of the group’s less-friendly members. There are over 600 species in the Pilea genus including both trailing and upright, bushy types – the versatile Pilea involucrata can be grown in either form.
This is definitely a foliage plant: its small flowers are easy to overlook. The deeply corrugated, attractively patterned, multicolored leaves are oval with serrated edges and darker longitudinal veins. Their exotic leaf pallet is a mix of bronze and burgundy hues contrasting with wide green outer margins … the undersides have a red to purplish color.
Native to South and Central America, Pilea involucrata is intolerant of frost and wet soil but quite adaptable otherwise. It’s a moderately fast grower that may reach a foot high and wide but usually stays smaller. The leaves are from one to three inches long.
This undemanding species is commonly called the Friendship Plant because it’s so easy to propagate and share with fellow gardeners. It’s also called a ‘Moon Valley’ Pilea for its textured, moonlike surface.
By either name, the Pilea Involucrata is widely available and creates a striking contrast among the green foliage of typical tropical plants. It can be either an accent or a standalone showpiece and kept as a bushy desktop plant or in a hanging basket. It’s a great terrarium species, too.
Pilea Involucrata Care Summary
Scientific Name Pilea involucrata
Common Name Friendship Plant, Moon Valley Pilea
Origin South and Central America
Light Requirements Pilea involucrata likes bright, indirect light but can handle a range of conditions; just be sure to shield the tender foliage from intense, direct sun and let them acclimate gradually.
Watering Wait until the top inch of soil dries out before watering. Give the mix a thorough soaking and let it drain completely … don’t rewater until the top inch of soil dries out again.
Soil Use a rich and very well-draining medium. 2/3 peat moss or coco coir is a good base to mix with 1/3 perlite or other inorganic amendments to increase aeration.
Temperature A range between 65ºF (18ºC) to 75ºF (24ºC) is ideal, with perhaps an evening drop of a few degrees.
Fertilizer Fertilize with a balanced blend diluted to half- or even quarter-strength. Apply in spring and again in mid-summer.
Humidity Pilea involucrata is native to tropical climates and does best with humidity of >50%
Flowering Produces small and undistinguished cream- or pink-colored blossoms. They look like frothy foam and make a pleasant accent against the foliage.
Pruning Pinch or trim back stems as needed to maintain compact growth.
Propagation Pilea involucrata is very easy to propagate from stem cuttings or by planting the baby offsets that grow along the stems of mature plants.
Re-Potting Rarely needs to be repotted. Wait until showing signs of becoming rootbound and increase the pot size by a maximum of 1-2 inches.
Diseases and Pests Fairly pest and disease resistant. Sometimes affected by aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites. Rarely impacted by diseases other than root rot.
Toxicity Pilea involucrata is non-toxic to humans and animals.
Pilea Involucrata Light Requirements
This versatile Pilea likes bright, indirect light but can handle a range of conditions; just be sure to shield the tender foliage from intense, direct sun. They can thrive in mild or dappled sunlight, but let them acclimate gradually.
The Pilea involucrata is sometimes sold as a low-light choice – and it can survive in fairly dim situations – but there is a tradeoff. The foliage darkens and becomes less colorful if the light is low, and the stems stretch and become leggy.
An east-facing windowsill is usually ideal, but the plant does fine in a brighter exposures with suitable protection. Sheer curtains can do the job, but simply pulling the container back a couple of feet will work, too.
This plant also does well in artificial light, making it easy to add a grow light to a dark corner or terrarium to increase their illumination.
How To Water Pilea Involucrata
Happily, watering isn’t a hassle with this plant. It doesn’t like to endure a parched existence, of course, but if you avoid overwatering or letting the soil go bone dry there shouldn’t be issues.
Wait until the top inch of soil dries out before watering. Give the mix a thorough soaking and let it drain completely … don’t rewater until the top inch of soil dries out again. Monitor the medium and only water when needed instead of using a schedule.
Overwatering is the most common Pilea involucrata care problem, and your plant will perish in persistently wet soil. Cut back on watering in the cool months when the plant is not growing.
Of course, extreme underwatering is harmful, too, but the plant sends up a flare by wilting slightly when the soil is too dry. It won’t collapse dramatically before turning crisp, but it doesn’t suffer invisibly.
Rich, Open Soil
The best soil for the Pilea involucrata is a rich and very well-draining medium. It’s much easier to water properly if the soil is open and doesn’t become a bog.
Peat moss or coco coir is a good base to mix with perlite or other inorganic amendments to increase aeration. African violet potting soil is another good base. Adding some organic elements like compost or leaf mold are good for fertility, but don’t overdo it.
High Humidity Preferred
The Pilea involucrata is native to tropical climates and naturally appreciates high humidity, but it’s a pretty good sport about it. If you offer average levels of at least 50%, the plant can adjust.